Dragon Con 2002
As soon as I walked up the steps of the Hyatt hotel, I knew this was where I wanted to be. Colorful characters are everywhere you turn, and somehow, I feel right at home. Is it because they are kindred spirits, or they make me feel normal...I don't know, but bless them, every one.
I come to Dragon Con mainly for the Xena track. The XTR (Xena Track Room) was extremely light on guests this year, and I have to admit, after my initial disappointment, I was rather thankful for that. It gave me a chance to really explore the other things going on at Dragon Con that I missed last year while trying to take in everything Xena. In fact, if I had one complaint about Dragon Con, it would be that there's too much going on and I can't see everything that I want to see (dammit).
There's nothing like it that I've ever seen, but then again, I've never been to Mardi Gras <g>. Dragon Con is a place where you can share an elevator with Lani John Tupu and in your head you're thinking, "Holey smokes. I'm standing next to Captian Crais!" The experience ends too soon, and suddenly, you're watching his back disappear into a sea of humanity before you realize you should have extended your hand and said "Mr. Tupu, I really enjoy your work."
I'm a fan. That's why I go. I'm not going to pretend that it's not cool to be able to walk up to Jason Carter and say hi because he's leaning on a post all by himself looking quite lonely and a little lost. I'm not going to pretend that it isn't cool that he seemed genuinely happy that someone noticed him and appreciated his work. Actors are people too. And I think that's really the beauty of Dragon Con. The actors are just as overwhelmed as the fans are here, and it's not uncommon to see them sitting in the lobby bar with fans, taking in the sights. I made eye contact with an actor (who I recognized, but don't know the name of) and we both had the same astonished look on our face in response to a young lady, dressed in nothing but high heels and strategically wrapped bubble wrap as she walked past us. What the hell? But thank you.
Expect the unexpected at Dragon Con. You won't be disappointed. I sure wasn't <g>.
We arrived Friday night to pick up our badges and within minutes we were greeted in line by two slightly drunk young men who, upon hearing that we were from out of town and not staying at the hotel, asked if we were staying with our folks. (chuckle) No we're not. But thank you, boys, for making me feel as young as you looked. They wished us 'Smoochie Boochies' on their way out the door with their new badges and I responded with a "Right on, Silent Bob and Jay." Welcome to Dragon Con 2002.
We saw a short film Friday night called Fatal Kiss, which was amusing and pretty awful all at the same time. Inexplicably, it won a few awards and HBO has picked it up. Go figure. It was a vampire thing, and would have made a good Tales of the Crypt, I suppose. One thing I did learn from it is that you can make a video and have it appear to be film by using a PAL camera. Film is 24 fps (frames per second), PAL records at 25 fps, where as video records at 29.9 fps. So filming in PAL allows you to get a film feel on video, cutting down on the production costs. So says Jeff Rector, actor, writer, producer and director, of Fatal Kiss.
I checked the XTR, as they were supposed to be showing eps and music videos all night. According to the schedule posted outside the door, this started at eleven. A crowd was gathered in the room, but no sign of videos, I checked my watch. Eleven fifteen. Rats. I had made a tape of my music videos to donate to the cause, but it would have to wait for tomorrow. We were wiped after our six hour drive in, so I headed out. As I was nearing the escalator, I saw some ladies with Xena video tapes and sleeping bags. Ah...it is you I seek! I handed over the tape and the keeper of videos thanked me and asked how she was going to get the tape back to me. "Keep it," I said, and called it a day. (After I got home from the Con, I got an email from someone who said they enjoyed the videos, so they did get shown. Thanks, keeper of the videos <g>)
Saturday morning found us at the Xena Track Room again, peeking in on Josepha Sherman's panel. (She wrote "Everything I Need to Know I Learned From the Warrior Princess" as well as that story in the Further Adventures of XWP book that's from Argo's point of view) We arrived a few minutes after it started (the room was half full). She was in the middle of a discussion about horses, and a few jokes about how Argo de-tacked herself at night were being batted about. Someone in the audience was egging her on about the horse thing, and I think she was just glad to have something to talk about. She did not seem very comfortable up there (lots of nervous laughter) and she was already going "Let's see, what else can we talk about?" She was only fifteen minutes into her one-hour panel. I've done public speaking, and I know how nerve wracking it can be, so I had some empathy going on there. We left after the horse discussion, so I really can't give a fair assessment of her panel. If anyone else was there, feel free to add to the report <g>.
We went across the street to the Marriot to check out the Walk of Fame and gawk at the "stars" <g>. It took me a few minutes to get over the fact that I just saw some of these people on TV the night before, but soon, they're just part of the collective 'wow' that is Dragon Con. You soon come to realize that the fans are the true stars here. Superheroes, Storm Troopers and Fairies, live together in harmony, as everyone respects the other's inner freak (said with love). I passed Klingons in the hall, and had the strangest urge to yell "jol yIchu'! " (pronounced Ch'o eeee chu!) which, if I remember correctly, means Activate the transporter beam! I didn't say it, because I was half afraid it would work. It's just that kind of place. Qapla', dude.
I moseyed over to the comic book artist's area and got to meet Dave Stevens, who is my favorite comic book artist on the planet, and he signed my Rocketeer book. Super, super nice guy.
It was getting time for the "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun .Xena in Costumes" panel in the XTR, so back we went, having no earthly idea that this was going to be one of the high points of Saturday. Deborah Abbott and Wendy Woody presented the panel. Deb dressed as Xena and Wendy as Gabrielle. I really had no clue who these gals were, but I vaguely remembered seeing Wendy as Gabrielle the year before, posing in the hotel lobby ("Xena" had to have been there somewhere, but I don't remember seeing her). Deb in her Xena costume looks very much like Xena, so that was pretty cool and Wendy makes a great Gabrielle.
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Wendy had put together a video of their adventures as "Xena" and "Gabrielle", starting with a trip to New Zealand where they appeared on the Holmes Show (in costume) promoting a new Xena tourist attraction-- chariot rides on the beach in chariots used in the show (the host, in typical Kiwi fashion, had never watched Xena and kept calling Gabrielle, Gabriel lol). Also in the video were a variety of other "Xena" moments, Deb on Jenny Jones, and she and Wendy in numerous costume contests and interviews. I got the impression from the video compilation (which was narrated by Wendy), that Deb called Wendy out one day and said (pointing) "You will be Gabrielle to my Xena. Resistance is futile." Wendy could do nothing but shake her head and think, "What the hell have I gotten myself into?" Very entertaining, these two. They talked about how they started dressing up, how they made their costumes, and then Deb began to disrobe, passing around her costume for closer inspection. Off came the gauntlets, then the breastplate and finally the main leathers and a tank top until she was standing in a black, fringe bikini. Uh gee a bonus <vbg>. She's so shy (snicker). The room was packed for this panel, btw. There's nothing like a half nekkid woman to draw a crowd. This is Dragon Con after all. (j/k. That may actually be true, but the room was packed before she got half naked, just so you know <g>)
They talked about meeting Lucy in NZ, and other tales and adventures. They ended their panel by showing two non-Xena related short films, both quite amusing, and before we knew it, the hour was over. Deb finally got her costume back, and she and Wendy posed for pictures. It was a fun hour, a delightful surprise. The girls play well together. (If anyone caught this panel on video, please email me.) The next day they would shed their Xena and Gabrielle outfits for Wonder Woman and Super Girl and appear in the Masquerade Ball. Great skit...too funny! They looked great. Thanks for the fun times ladies! (Click here for Deborah and Wendy's DragonCon Photo album)
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Next up in the XTR, Ted Raimi. The room was packed again. I had a chance to speak to Ted down in the Walk of Fame earlier in the day. I always feel a little goofy going up to an actor, because after "Hello, I love your work," and a "Thank you" reply, there's that odd little silence as I scratch my head and try to think of a graceful exit other than "Yeah well anyway see ya." I didn't have that problem with Ted. He filled in the space where the silence usually falls by asking me all kinds of questions about myself that I'm pretty sure he couldn't possibly be interested in (but it was very sweet of him to save me from myself <g>). When he took a breath, I finally wound up saying "Yeah well I'll see you at your panel this afternoon." To which he replied, "Great yeah see ya." Wave. I suppose actors don't like those odd little silences either. He's a funny, jittery fellow--perpetual motion man. He was very sweet to me though, so I'm glad I stepped up to say hi.
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On to his panel. He bounded into the room, a bundle of nervous energy, and was thoroughly entertaining. He talked about Odyssey 5, a Sci Fi show that he was going to be in (Fri 9/6 on Showtime), and a few projects that he had in the works that he couldn't elaborate on (one possibly with Bruce Campbell), and then he fielded our questions which ranged from Sea Quest, to Xena, to Evil Dead, to Spiderman (which he says he turned down, but his Mom made him do it <g>).
A good time was had by all, and we even got him to sing the Joxer the Mighty song at the end with a little help from some audience members. (he wrote that song, btw) His comments on Xena to follow in the Sunday panel report.
After Ted, came the premiere of Amazon High (click for my review. *Spoilers* so beware). If you don't want to read the spoilers, I'll just quickly say that I enjoyed it as a tele-movie, but I'm not quite sure where they would have taken it as a series. I often wondered what the name referred to, and now I know it means High as in High School. Although, it may have made a better series if the High referred to Amazons smoking dope because at times, I have wondered if that was not indeed the case. <vbg>.
That was the end of the XTR for me on Saturday. I met some friends for dinner. (BTW, if you want to have a good conversation over dinner don't go to the Hard Rock Café. Food was good, but you can't hear shit <g>. What was I thinking?)
We wandered around the lobby for a while Saturday night, taking in the costumes and such, but we were pretty exhausted so we headed out.
Sunday, I didn't want to get out of bed. There's just something about Cons that just drain the hell out of me. Sensory overload, I think. I finally got over to the hotels around noon and since the XTR was showing Amazon High again, I thought I'd catch the end. When I got there, I found that they had cancelled the second showing and they were in between panel discussions. The next discussion was how to keep the Xenaverse alive, now that the show is over. The Xenaverse is still alive in me; I watch it on O2, I have my website, I make videos, I write FanFic. I'm doing my part, so I felt I could be excused from class <g>. I went over to the art show and exhibit hall. I met a wonderful digital artist by the name of Cris Palomino, she was so nice and friendly, taking the time to answer any questions you might have. She had her computer there and she was doing some work in Photoshop. Wow. Very cool. Go to her site and check out the 3D artwork.
Around three o'clock I headed back to the XTR where, to my surprise, and momentary delight, they were showing Rubbernecking, which has Renee in it (she made this sometime during the Xena run). I say momentary delight because I've seen a lot of bad movies in my time I mean bad but this has now made my list of the worst film I've ever seen (actually, we didn't really see all of it). It was so bad, that we fast forwarded through it, stopping only when Renee's parts came on. Gawd. It was bad. Which is surprising because it had Corbin Bernson, Renee, and the guy from Ellen (sorry can't remember his name. He was her photographer friend, Adam)
It takes place in a traffic jam on the LA freeway. Oh...spoilers ahead, if you could possibly even care...no, you can't...no...really...you can't. The story hops around from car to car, following the lives of several people. Renee plays a gal who catches the attention of a fellow driver. He holds up a legal pad asking for her cell phone #. She ignores him at first, but then he holds up his number and she calls him. What ensues is a lot of boring dialog. Renee looked great, if that's any consolation (it was to us, as we suffered through this mess). How do these things get made and how do they get these people to do it? My Dinner With Andre it ain't.
Next in the XTR was Ted again. He wasn't as nervous today (he was very fidgety with his hands the day before), he did some spot on imitations of some actors (he's quite a good mimic), and told funny stories from some movies that he'd worked on.
There weren't a lot of Xena specific questions, but these are a few that I remember.
One question was "What did you like the most, and did you like the least about working in NZ?" Ted thought the weather was really neat "Four seasons in one day," he said. "You'd wake up in the morning and the wind was howling, and then it would pour rain, and then the wind would kick up again, and then by the end of the day, the sun would come out and it would be beautiful."
The worst thing was filming with all of the weird animals making noise in the background. "In LA you have to worry about cars and planes, in NZ you have to worry about sheep and noisy bugs." He did a really funny impersonation of a Kiwi bird <g>.
Someone asked if he ever pulled practical jokes on the set ('cause he's a really funny guy). He said not really, just little things now and then. He said some actors make notes on their scripts, like "Begin anger here," or "I'm mad at this character because..." So he took Lucy's script and wrote "I am so pretty. Flip my beautiful black hair here." Lucy read it and looked around "Get outta here!" Laughs.
When asked if he missed the show, he kind of made an apprehensive face and said sheepishly, "Not really." The crowd let out a collective, "Hm." Ted just smiled and said "That's really not what you wanted to hear, is it?" Murmur, murmur, murmur.
He then proceeded to inform us that he's learned over the years to never disagree with Xena fans. He put on a Valley guy type voice and said "Um, isn't Lucy Lawless like the most beautiful woman you've like ever seen?" In his own voice he says "Well, I don't know if she's the *most*..." He cuts himself off and pretends to put a gun to his head and becomes psychotic Valley guy "ISN'T LUCY LAWLESS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN YOU'VE EVER SEEN!!?" We all laugh.
It's hard to describe Ted, because his comedy is so physical. So I hope I'm doing him justice. Everything he said was in good humor. It's so hard to convey intent with printed words, because at times, words out of the context of the moment can appear rather suspect, but I assure you the atmosphere was one of comedy, so keep that in mind.
When asked if he preferred playing Joxer, Jet or Jace, he kind of smiled and looked off, "Hm...a bumbling idiot, an assassin or a Homosexual?" We laugh. "I'm none of those," he says, "So I suppose it's fun playing all of those parts." (very diplomatic <g>) He said he came up with Jace's accent as a lark while recording "Dancing In the Moonlight" for the ep Lyre Lyre Hearts on Fire. He thought it was hilarious, but Joe LoDuca was not amused and told him to lose the accent. When Joe left the room, Ted re-recorded the song in the accent. Upon hearing the whole song, Joe admitted it was funny and the accent got to stay!
Someone asked what he thought his worst episode was and we were surprised that he did not say Married With Fishsticks <g>. He said "The one with the haunted house." Now, I would think Haunting of Amphipolis from that description...but he wasn't in that. Could he mean Takes One to Know One? I dunno. Help me out people. Anyhoo, he said his performance "Really sucked." He shook his head. "Awful."
Another question was whether it was hard for him to "get back into the bumbling idiot Joxer character for Soul Possession," when this particular fan thought his character had grown to be so much more in the the course of the series. (a smattering of laughter ensued) Ted looked off as if in deep contemplation and finally couldn't stand it. He let out a laugh. "No."
Ted was about to leave, when as a last question, someone asked about working with Kevin Smith. While Ted didn't have a story to tell, he did say what pretty much everyone says about Kevin. "He was a really great guy and we miss him very much." A few moments of reverent silence fell as we all reflected on Kevin's loss, and that's when Ted decided to take a few more questions instead of leaving on that solemn note.
He ended his panel with a round of pretty hard teasing of a young lady who asked "What are your guilty pleasures, or did you have to relinquish your shame card when you signed your SAG contract?" He was a bit confused by the question (as were we <g>) and the more the young lady tried to clarify herself, the worse it got, until he finally invited her up front and we had a few laughs at her expense. She seemed to take it pretty well, and wasn't offended at all. Ted bid us adieu (quickly, before we made him do the Joxer the Mighty song again <g>) and I was surprised to see him appear several minutes after he'd left the room. He'd come back to apologize to the young lady and to make sure he didn't offend her with all of the teasing. She thanked him and assured him she was cool with it. Sweet.
After Ted's panel, they had a video tribute to Kevin Smith and a raffle that raised (IIRC) over two thousand dollars for The Kevin Smith Fund. I went to dinner after that, and then to the main hall to get a good seat for the Masquerade Ball.
If you've never been to this event (which I hadn't), you have to experience it just once to believe it. Getting a seat at 6:30pm for the 8:30pm show still wasn't early enough to get a good seat. They have jumbo-tron screens, so you can see, but I would prefer to get a balcony seat and video from there (I'll have to look into that next year).
The Mystery Science Theater 3000 guys, Michael J. Nelson and Kevin Murphy, hosted it this year. They were very funny, as you would expect. They were brought on stage by a regiment of Storm Troopers led by Darth Vader. This was amusing, as the Storm Troopers would later be used to remove participants that had either gone over their allotted time, or just plain sucked <g>. Now let me say, despite some cries from the audience of "Send in the Storm Troopers!" during some of the acts, *no one* sucked. Everyone who participated deserved something. What an awesome display. My hat's off to you all!
We hung around the auditorium while the costumers paraded past, and then battled the mayhem of the lobby. This was crazy! If you're claustrophobic, (which thankfully, I'm not) this wouldn't be for you. We made our way to the second floor balcony so that we could get a bird's eye view of the madness below. Eventually the crowd thinned a bit, and we decided it was safe to return to ground level. I managed to get my picture taken with a nice young man (yes, man) dressed as Princess Leia as she looked in Jedi during the scene in Jabba's lair. I don't know... and I didn't ask <g>. I also got to hold Spiderman's dinner while he had his picture taken. Now, I ask you where else?
After the ball, we ambled down to the XTR and to my delight; my favorite Xena episode of all time was playing. Breathe it with me everyone When Fates Collide <vbg>. I'd never seen it with a crowd before, and this was just so great. I sigh at the balcony scene, and laugh when the Empress threatens to beat the tar out of Joxer, but to have a whole room join in, well my peeps...I love you all.( everyone join hands and sing Kum By Ya) I was in heaven and we all clapped at the end. Lovely. Thank you, Katherine, for writing such a great ep.
That was the last I'd see of the XTR for Dragon Con 2002. I wanted to go to the publishing panel on Monday morning, but we had a long drive ahead of us, so I wound up just running into the Exhibit hall to purchase my Dress Up Bettie Page fridge magnet before hitting the road. (Everyone needs one of those, right? <vbg>)
I'd like to thank the XTR directors for pulling it all together with very little to work with. It seemed to be a collaborative effort in the absence of Missy Good, and everyone did a fine job. Someone asked me if I thought the Xenaverse was dying (based on XTR attendance). It didn't appear that way to me. The panel discussions had the usual crowd (which fills up about three quarters of the room), but the room was packed to standing room only for several events and lots of people just wandering around looking for something to do stopped in to see what was going on.
Bring the guests and they'll bring the crowds. Here's hoping that next year will be a big one for the XTR.
There's still too much to do at Dragon Con and I'm sorry I didn't get to see more short films or visit the Farscape room, or hang more in the Writer's panel, or aw heck...the list is too long. Thank the gods there's always next year. <g>